|cranberry juice and incense on our household altar|
Pagan Blog Project – week 29 – O#1 – Offerings
A Note - There are lots of possibilities when it comes to talking about offerings. We could talk about why to give or why not to give offerings, who to give offerings to, what offerings are best for which Deity or which spirits. We could talk about offering etiquette, offering options, offering techniques, and offering methods.
All of this stuff is very important and each of those points are worth their own blog post. This post, however, is just a short survey of offerings – how to give them and what to do after you’ve given them. I don’t intend to leave anything out on purpose, so please just consider this as just presenting a few quick options and points to consider. I’d also encourage any readers to leave their own thoughts and comments in regards to offerings. I’d love to hear more!
A food or drink offering can be left on an altar or at a shrine or in a special spot inside or outside. It’s generally thought offering only the best and most fresh food or drink is acceptable. (We don’t want to insult the Shining Ones by giving them or leaving them moldy food). Though there are appropriate times to offer less-than-desirable offerings (such as Hecate’s Deipnon.)
It’s nice to find a space outside that you can leave food offerings when they are ready to be taken away. You can find a space in your yard, or if you are in a city, find a large flower box or other public area with lots of earth and plants to dispose of your offerings.
I have two Druid friends who dispose of offerings like wine and water down the sink with a special prayer to the Roman goddess of the sewers, Cloacina. Or, keep offerings plant and food friendly, like fresh water, bird seeds, grains, etc. These can be sprinkled outside with no harm to nature or animals that might ingest them.
Incense, oils, or other scents can be used as offering as well. I personally love burning incense. Incense is said to carry our prayers to the Gods and spirits. Burning incense is affordable, easy, and long-lasting. It might be good to include a thought or a special prayer, but this isn’t always necessary.
Or burn a candle. Make sure it’s in a safe place so it won’t fall over or an animal can’t get to it. Again, a prayer or nice thought is appropriate.
For those who can’t use fire or incense because you are in a dorm or similar setting, you can still pray at a special place! Or sprinkle potpourri or loose incense or dust, just without burning it.
Actions and deeds can also be given as offerings. Volunteering, spending time with people in need, being generous with your love or money - there are very few limits when it comes to the possibilities of giving offerings.
One of the keys to giving offerings is to do them with intention. Any act can be an act of loving devotion if the intention is there. And also, trust your intuition! This can be very powerful and endlessly important.
An example - I recently did a ritual to a Deity who I hadn’t really formally worked with before. I felt as if the gifts I gave were not enough, but I wasn’t sure what else to do. So I spoke this concern out loud and asked that She be kind and help guide me so I could properly offer to her.
|the Omen from our July 4th ritual|
I asked my Druid friends their opinions, and they said that in their tradition, Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF), oracles are conducted as part of the ritual structure to see if an offering is well received. Offerings are given, and then an oracle is consulted. If the oracle is unfavorable they offer more offerings, then ask another oracle (tarot cards, runes, etc).
They have three times with in the ritual to offer an offering, and after three unfavorable oracles, they stop the ritual. This seems very useful to me to see, right away, if an offering is well received. Though honestly, I don’t think it’s appropriate for every ritual or situation. Intuition really goes a long way, and trusting your intuition is a skill we all should develop.
After my ritual, I went back a few days later and did another one. I offered some more prayers and incense, and I felt as if it was well received. It just felt different. I believe that this is because I wasn’t “cold calling” upon this specific deity. I was taking steps to develop more of a relationship, out of love and respect and trust.
Sometimes we make mistakes, and that’s okay. Just like with any other mis-step or mistake, admit it, apologize, and then move on, while taking steps to rectify or change the mistake so it doesn’t happen again. It’s a learning process!
So go, make offerings. Abundant offerings be upon our Shining Ones! Think outside the box, be kind, be intentional, and trust your instinct and intuition. Our Gods and Spirits and Ancestors and Guides are much deserving of our love and respect, and they appreciate our gifts, no matter how large or small.
And lastly, be open to their gifts as well. Our lives are full of blessings.